The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it has awarded Food Lifeline of Seattle approximately US$200 000 to assist in the development of a community-owned anaerobic digester (AD) in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle, Washington State (WA).
The goal of the EPA grant is to help reduce food loss and waste and to divert food waste from landfills and incinerators by expanding anaerobic digester capacity.
Food Lifeline will partner with Duwamish Valley Sustainability Association (DVSA), Black Star Farmers, and Sustainable Seattle, to develop a new anaerobic digester capacity for the South City Biodigester Collaboration project.
This project is designed to be a demonstrator of the potential for a larger-scale biomass fuel system and serve as an example of a closed-loop “circular economy.”
It is also intended to help provide Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and low-income communities autonomy over their waste-to-energy cycle, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and introduce immigrant, first-generation, and BIPOC youth in the Duwamish Valley to STEM career pathways.
The demonstration project will measure specific AD deliverables, including pounds of waste diverted from landfills and large composting facilities, gallons of digestate used by Black Star Farmers in their local farms, amount of community participation and youth involvement, and the number of education and engagement events held.
Activities will be conducted by project partners will include:
- Duwamish Valley Sustainability Association: technical expertise, youth and community network engagement, workshops, and community education events, up to 200 hours of the curriculum;
- Black Star Farmers: technical expertise, a Black and Indigenous farmer network, use and demonstration of co-products, identification of other BIPOC farms in need of excess co-product, up to 200 hours of the curriculum;
- Sustainable Seattle: program oversight through up to 100 hours of relationship and project management support, promotion of classes, and distribution of project information to their network.
One of eleven projects selected
The grant is one of 11 projects selected for funding in 2022 which include feasibility studies, modeling efforts, demonstration projects, as well as technical assistance and training.
Projects like this one underscore the benefits of a collaborative, community-centered approach. The EPA is excited to support this anaerobic digestion project and other efforts in the Duwamish Valley that bring people together to fight climate change, protect public health, and empower communities, said Casey Sixkiller, regional administrator of EPA’s Region 10 office in Seattle.
The South City Biodigester Collaboration project will be an initial exhibition of a new technology process for the South Park community, leveraging breakthrough technology that involves the AD process coupled with very low energy inputs making it more accessible for small-scale businesses and organizations.
The project will evaluate the cost-effectiveness of inputs and output potentials for scalability in small business and community use, leverage its findings and impact to assess the technical feasibility and cost-effectiveness of a larger-scale biofuel system in the South Park community, and develop a local, community-based, BIPOC led farm-to-table-back-to-farm lifecycle.
For this year’s grant competition, EPA evaluated applicants on how their projects addressed numerous factors resulting from industrial, governmental, commercial, and/or other actions: human health, environmental, social, climate-related, and other cumulative impacts, and accompanying economic challenges of such impacts.
According to EPA it has “prioritized environmental justice” by ensuring nearly half of the US$2 million awarded nationally under this grant program this year were to projects or recipients located in underserved communities.
Specifically, EPA considered the effects of this program on People of Color, low-income, Tribal, and Indigenous populations, and other vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and children.